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My daughter will be “Star of the Week” at her preschool next week. It is a pretty exciting time for her, but it’s sadly the last time at this rodeo for us as a family. My son also attended the same preschool for two years. This is my daughter’s second, and final year.
You may be wondering what on earth is “Star of the Week”? It’s not anything the kids earn. Every child gets to be the Star of the Week once during the year. I had to print out 5 – 7 photos of my daughter, the rest of the family and her pets. She and I will complete a sheet about her favorite things. Her photos will be displayed in the hallway for the whole school to see all week.
But, here’s the best part. Show and Tell. She has school four days per week, and she gets to bring up to two items every single day for the week. I loved show and tell as a child. Am I alone here? It’s got me wondering what it was about Show and Tell that I loved so much.
I guess it’s getting to share something about yourself. It’s got me thinking – I would still like to do that as an adult! Maybe that should be my next meeting or training icebreaker! I think it’s a great idea.
It’s also got me to thinking about the seemingly contradictory idea that everyone is special. When we show and tell our treasures, it does feel like we’re telling what it is that makes us special.
A lot of people complain about sports now – how everyone gets a trophy, regardless of talent, skill, or hard work, and how that isn’t right. And, to an extent, I agree. But, it seems there is a place for the idea that everyone should have a chance to feel special.
But, if everyone is special, then doesn’t the word lose its meaning? Can everyone be special? It depends on which definition you choose.
As usual, I went to my go-to – dictionary.com. If you focus on the definition of being “distinguished or different from what is ordinary or usual”, then, no, everyone cannot be special. Only people different from the ordinary . . . However, I like this definition better: “
A little off-topic is the noun definition: “
Okay. Sorry. Had to go there. Back to the idea about each of us being special. A co-worker has a little snippet hung in his cubicle about “Special Snowflakes”. I’m sure you’ve heard the idea that younger generations feel entitled, are easily offended, etc. So, it could be argued that what I’m describing sounds a little like that.
But, hopefully, it’s a little (or a lot) deeper. If you have more than one child, certainly one or more of them have asked who is your favorite, or who you love the most. Whether you have have one child, or fifteen, your children are special to you because they are yours (whether biological or adopted), and each one is different and special in their own way.
I’ve wondered if that’s how God sees us, too. If He loves us all, can each individual also be special? Lyrics from a Johnny Diaz song come to my mind:
“There could never be a more beautiful you
Don’t buy the lies, disguises and hoops, they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you”
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It all started in May. I had finished binge-watching The Good Wife, and my DVR was full of stuff for the kids and hubby, but nothing for me. So, I whined to my librarian.
She told me she had heard good things about a series called, A Place to Call Home. You probably gathered from the title of this post, that it is an Australian drama. I enjoyed it a great deal. The story takes place in the 1950’s and deals with the aftermath of WWII, among other things. There is a fifth season, but the disks aren’t available through the library yet, so I was left hanging at the end of Season 4 (I should mention, we live out in the country. We have limited internet options, and limited data, so Netflix is not something we can do).
Besides enjoying the plot, I liked watching for similarities and differences in Australian culture vs. American culture. Of course, they drive on the wrong side of the road. Then, there’s the accent. I was more surprised by the commonalities than the differences, even 60 years ago.
So, when that was over, I searched online for Australian dramas, and found McLeod’s Daughters. It ran in Australia from 2000 through 2009. It’s about two half-sisters, who had the same father, but different mothers. Long story short, now all of their parents have died. Both daughters run the ranch they inherited from their father. They fire all of the male employees for theft early on, and now it’s all women running the place.
It’s admittedly a little soap-opera-ish at times, but entertaining. Tess is the younger sister, and she’s always trying new things (organic farming, growing hemp, etc.). She buys some Alpacas. Her neighbor, Alex, doesn’t think too much of the animals. Here’s an exchange between the two of them:
Tess (about the Alpacas): “They guard the sheep. Keep the foxes away.”
Alex: “Is that right? I’m not surprised. The fox is probably paralyzed with laughter.”
Come on! It’s funny! Isn’t it? You know – Alpacas are kind of goofy looking. Maybe I’m easily amused. What’s not to like about Australian ranch humor?
And, have you heard the saying, “Bob’s your Uncle”? There’s a restaurant with that name not too far from here. I just thought it was a peculiar name, but I kind of liked it. Good food too. Once I had kids, my brother, Bob, was my kids’ Uncle, so I liked it even more. But, I didn’t know it was a real saying. They say it in Great Britain and apparently Australia too. It means, “there you have it” or “everything’s alright”. In the case of McLeod’s daughters, it seemed to mean, “And we’re back in business.” It sounds real nice with that Australian accent. But, what doesn’t? Nothin’, I reckon.
Then, there are the Utes. Bet you didn’t know about those either – did ya? Well, don’t feel bad. I didn’t either. A couple episodes in, I noticed a vehicle that looked remarkably like the El Camino my parents had in the late 70’s. So, I thought to myself, “Self . . .” just kidding. Actually, I thought, “Wow. That really looks like an El Camino. I don’t remember the last time I saw one of those.” So, after seeing them a few times on the show, I decided to do a little research about the Australian El Camino.
That’s when I found out that, in Australia, they call it a Ute, which is short for utility vehicle. It’s rather ugly, isn’t it? They even have a rural festival that revolves around the Ute. I suspect, from the photos, that it gets a bit out of hand. But, there is something about the Australian culture and enthusiasm that I like. I am happy I have another 7 or 8 seasons of McLeod’s Daughters left. When that’s over, what will I do? Well, find another Australian drama, I reckon.
My brother died on October 16th, 2015. I started blogging in March of 2016. So yeah, I started writing partially because it’s therapeutic. But, why did I have to start a blog? Why couldn’t I just write stuff for myself, and save it on a thumb drive? I don’t know. I guess most people who create something want to share it . . . otherwise, it kind of seems like there’s no point. Maybe sharing could help someone else. Maybe it would help me to make connections . . . maybe it would accelerate my healing.
Did it accomplish any of those things? Maybe. I felt the need to write about it a lot for a while. I’ve mostly been writing about other things over the last few months. With the anniversary coming up, though, it’s made me think about what grief is like two years later.
Before my brother got sick, when I would hear about someone losing a sibling or a spouse too young, I would wonder how they could stand it. How could they cope with such a loss? I would wonder, and pray that I never would experience anything like it. Sadly I am now a member of a club I never wanted to join. I don’t wish membership to this club on my worst enemy.
Does grief get better with time? Yes and no. The frequency is less, but the intensity is the same. I bought a book about grief a month or two after my brother died. Probably the only helpful advice I got from it was that everyone is different, and I should allow myself to take as long as I need. So, I don’t get upset with myself when I feel sad. In fact, I knew from the time that he went into hospice, when I finally accepted that there was very little hope, that this was a loss that my other brother, my parents, and I would never fully recover from. And, I suppose we shouldn’t. It’s a loss that deserves to be felt.
It still feels very surreal to me. In the beginning, I think I was afraid not to think about it. Afraid if I let my guard down, it would sneak up on me and it would be like going through all of it again for the first time. Maybe my instincts were right. I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and it’s like it’s all happening again for the first time.
I’m quite certain there has not been a single day that I have not thought about my brother. I didn’t realize, until the first week after he passed, just how much I thought about my childhood and both of my brothers on a daily basis. In the beginning, so many of my thoughts were dominated by the horror of his five month illness. I could hardly picture him healthy, as much as I wanted to remember the good times.
Have the holidays and birthdays gotten any easier? A little, I guess. My daughter’s and my birthday landed between my brother’s death and his Memorial Service. I still remember meeting family for my daugther’s birthday party and having this feeling of anticipation of my brother calling to let me know he was there waiting, or on his way. Something he often did when we met somewhere. I’ve gotten used to the idea that there won’t be any more of those calls. I’ve learned that getting used to it, and liking it aren’t the same thing. Have I accepted it? I don’t really know the answer to that either.
I do hope that this post will help others who are grieving to know they aren’t alone. Two years later, and I guess I’m still working through it all. Maybe I always will be.
Most people aren’t. In fact, you have probably encountered a few people today who either interrupted you or were just thinking about what they were going to say next while you were talking.
“Listening is the new loving”. I heard Luis Palau say this on K-LOVE the other day. It sounds cheesy coming from me, but not from him.
I remember going through an interview several years ago. It was through a staffing agency, and the woman had such fine listening skills, it actually took me off-guard. You have probably heard some tips about active listening. Paraphrase back to the person what they’ve said. Get confirmation that you’ve understood, etc. She was so good at paraphrasing what I had said, she said it far better than I did originally. An impressive skill.
It can be frustrating speaking to a poor listener. But, when two poor listeners get together – watch out. It’s a bit like two narcissists.
I’m getting a little negative here. It’s obvious that it’s a treat to talk to a good listener. But, what are some of the positives of being a good listener?
When my anxiety was at its worst, I went to a counselor for a while. I was telling her about how I had to give an employee some bad news about her job. I told her how I hated for this person to have negative feelings about me, when I was only the messenger, and not the decision-maker. She challenged me to take the focus off of myself, and instead truly focus on this person . . . listening and thinking about what I could do for her, instead of getting anxious about how she was thinking and feeling about me.
If you suffer from anxiety, a trick to reduce some of your anxious feelings is to take the focus off of yourself. So, you are not only benefiting the other person by genuinely listening; you are also helping yourself.
I think I’m a pretty good listener, but not all of the time. My husband would say I’m a poor listener at times. Our house can be chaotic – so yes, it’s true. I don’t always catch everything. Like most people, if I have stressful things going on, I can be distracted. But, I recognize that it is a choice to be a good listener – and it takes an effort. Hmmm . . . kind of like it being a choice to love someone. It takes effort to make relationships (romantic or otherwise) last. So, maybe Luis Palau is right. Maybe listening is the new loving. What do you think?
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The last update on my fitness journey was that I had lost 2 lbs. the previous week. This last Saturday, I had gained back 4/10 of a lb. Grrrr.
The Good. While the scale didn’t cooperate, I did move more and made a conscious effort to eat better. While I did not walk every day, I walked most days. Finding time to walk sometimes required creativity. One day, I went to my chiropractor over lunch, which is in a town about 10 miles from my work. In order to make time for my appointment, and also have time to eat and walk, I walked near her office. It was a nice change in scenery.
On another day, I found a lovely hiking path in a park in the town 10 miles in the other direction from work. I’d been to the park with my kids many times before, but I had no idea there was a paved trail going into the woods! The things you discover when you force yourself to change things up.
While I haven’t been meeting the 28 day challenge every single day, I have been doing it more than 1/2 the time. The 28 day challenge is 10 minutes of exercises, mostly focusing on your core. Ten minutes probably doesn’t seem like much, but it seriously seems like the longest 10 minutes ever! With my back injury, these are great exercises for me because I could use increased strength in my core. Even if I didn’t lose weight last week, I can tell the exercises are making me stronger.
The Bad. We had something major and unexpected happen at work last week. That, along with the unusual heat, has been my excuse for not walking every day. I do have a treadmill . . . it’s just a matter of getting it out of storage.
The Ugly. Vanilla ice cream . . . it’s so delicious, so creamy and vanilla-ey. But, I’m afraid it’s a very bad habit. Okay . . . it’s not ugly. It’s beautiful goodness and wonderfulness! But, it’s full of calories and fat, and I treat myself to it almost every night. Not a lot, usually, but enough that I’m afraid I’m going to have to do without it for a while.
Well, vanilla ice cream . . . it’s been real. It’s been fun. Actually, it’s been real fun, but we’re going to have to take a break . . . It’s not you. It’s me.
A short while ago, I wrote about how I felt God was sending me a message that I should be using my spiritual gifts to serve others, but I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to be doing. You can read that post here: How Can I Use my Gifts to Better Serve God and Others?
I ended that post by saying that I was anxious to find out what lessons I would learn on my journey. Well, the journey did not take me where I expected.
Soooo . . . I had met with the Lead Pastor at our church, who introduced me to the Outreach Pastor. We talked about my talents and interests. A Sunday or two later, I found myself helping with Pre-K Kids’ Church. On the inside, I was less than enthusiastic about this. On the outside, I tried to make it seem like I was enjoying myself.
I’ve taught Sunday school in the past, and I just don’t enjoy it that much. It’s a myth that if you’re female and you have young children, you must love working with all children. Don’t get me wrong. I do like kids. As I communicated to the Children’s Director, there’s just something about that environment I find very draining. I’m willing to fill in temporarily, but it’s not something I’m interested in doing every week.
The church also contacted me about a weekly women’s Bible Study, potentially helping the older kids with their weekly production, and helping with the Kids’ Church registration desk.
In addition, I just got a promotion at work that requires me to work an extra hour per day. Besides being less than a month back into the school year, my daughter started weekly dance class again. I’ve also decided to possibly pursue another degree, related to my promotion. I have a full plate.
Long story short, I decided to say “No” to Kids’ Church and helping with the older kids’ production. I have committed to a six week Women’s Bible Study, which meets weekly, and working at the registration desk for Kids’ Church every six weeks. I worked at the registration desk for the first time last Sunday, and I really liked it a lot. I figured out, it was because it was a lot like my old Customer Service job, so it came pretty naturally.
I wrote an article a year ago where I talked about how I developed a talent or a skill in coaching and managing others (Is it a Talent or a Skill? Does it Matter?) in my job in Customer Service. I didn’t focus on what I had learned when serving customers, and training others to serve customers. Frankly, I learned a ton, and matured a great deal too. I recently started to realize that my ability to not take things personally came, at least in part, from dealing with upset customers. This is a skill I use constantly, and had attributed it to the tools I had found in learning to overcome anxiety. I hadn’t been giving the Customer Service experience nearly enough credit.
Even funnier, of all the gifts I listed in my recent article, when I was trying to figure out how I should be serving, not once did Customer Service come to my mind. I took a really round about way to get to the spot where I’m supposed to be helping right now. I enjoy doing it, and the time commitment fits perfectly with all of my responsibilities. I really like the Children’s Director, who is training me. That could be the icing on the cake – I may even make a new friend.